OU Torah Insights
January 30, 1999
Rabbi Saul Aronov
nations passage through the split waters of the Yam Suf marked not
only the final step of their Exodus from Egypt, but their first step toward becoming
G-ds chosen people. In this manner, they followed in the footsteps of the
Avraham, according to
the Midrash, was on his way to the Akeidah with Yitzchak, when the Satan took
the form of a stream and blocked their path. Avraham pressed on and as he waded through,
the water reached his neck. But his devotion to fulfill the Divine request to take Isaac
to the Akeidah enabled him to safely pass through those threatening waters.
devotion to Hashem enabled him to remain steadfast in Canaan, even during the famine
there, and to re-open Avrahams wells, which the Philistines had stopped up.
Yaakov, too, was tested
at a body of waterthe Yabbok Riverwhere he wrestled with the angel of Eisav.
confronted by a turbulent sea, acted with self-sacrifice by jumping into the Yam Suf,
an act that propelled them forward with a new resolve, a new dimension of faith.
through the water, the Israelites express their newfound faith in songthe Shiras
Hayam, the Song of the Sea. The Midrash states that at Creation the angels declared,
"What is man that we should make mention of him?"
G-d replied, "Come
observe the scene of the Song of the Sea."
As soon as they heard
the Israelites sing, the angels began to sing as well: "O G-d, how glorious is Your
Name in all the earth."
Song, through which
celestial beings praise the Almighty in the Heavenly abode, is the language of the soul.
Song possesses therapeutic powers for those who are physically and mentally handicapped.
Moshe, who suffered from a speech impediment, sang at the sea without obstructions.
The Torah is called a Shirah,
a song. The Torah is also allegorically referred to as water for the parched soul. The
combination of water and song at the Yam Suf brought the nascent Jewish nation one
step closer, physically and spiritually, to their acceptance of the Torah and their
embrace of the Divine mandate.
Our mission today
remains that of our forebearsto swim in the "Sea of Torah," to drink from
its waters, and to sing out gloriously to G-d for His generous, eternal gift to us.
Rabbi Saul Aronov
Rabbi Aronov is rabbi of
Beth Israel Synagogue in Halifax, Canada.